CHIP

January 10, 2024

Our 2024 Legislative Agenda

At Voices for Utah Children, we always start with this guiding question: "Is it good for all kids?" That remains our north star at the outset of the 2024 legislative session, and is reflected in our top legislative priorities.

So, what’s good for all kids in 2024?

A Healthy Start!

A healthy start in life ensures a child's immediate well-being while laying a foundation for future success. We are steadfast in our commitment to championing policies that prioritize every child's physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Central to this commitment is our focus on improving Utah’s popular Medicaid and CHIP programs, which are pivotal in the lives of many Utah children and families. 

This legislative session, a healthy start for kids looks like:

  • Empowering Expectant Mothers: We support a proposal from Rep. Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) to increase access to health coverage for low-income and immigrant mothers-to-be.
  • Increasing Access to Health Care: We support bills that aim to improve access to the vital healthcare services children and parents need, especially for those on Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Protecting Health Coverage: We oppose any effort to defund, and exclude deserving children from, the Medicaid and CHIP programs that help thousands of Utah kids every year. 

Early Learning and Care Opportunities!

The formative years of a child's life lay the foundation for their future, shaping their cognitive abilities, socio-emotional skills, and passion for learning. We will support efforts to increase access to home visiting programs and paid family leave, but ensuring consistent, quality, and affordable child care is our top priority.

This legislative session, early learning and care opportunities for kids looks like:

  • Bolstering Access to Quality Child Care: We support the efforts of both Rep. Andrew Stoddard (D-Sandy) and Rep. Ashlee Matthews (D-Kearns) to extend the successful Office of Child Care stabilization grant program that has supported licensed child care programs statewide.
  • Investing in High-Quality Preschool: We support an anticipated legislative proposal to streamline Utah’s existing high-quality school-readiness program and to make it available to more preschoolers statewide. 
  • Recruiting and Retaining Child Care Professionals: We support Rep. Matthews’ proposal to expand access to the Child Care Assistance Program for anyone working in the child care sector.
  • Building New Child Care Businesses: We also support Rep. Matthews’ proposal to continue funding for work to develop and support new child care programs in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

To view a more comprehensive list of our 2024 early care and learning legislative priorities, click here

Economic Stability for Families with Children!

Economic stability forms the bedrock of thriving families and vibrant communities. To ensure that young families in Utah have the support they need to afford basic necessities, we will advocate for increasing families’ access to Utah's earned income and child tax credits.

This legislative session, economic stability for families looks like: 

  • A Little Extra Help in the Early Years: We support HB 153, Rep. Susan Pulsipher’s (R-South Jordan) bill to expand Utah’s new Child Tax Credit, (currently only for children ages 1 to 3), to apply to children between 1 and 5 years of age. We also strongly recommend helping even more Utah families with young children by making the tax credit available for families with any child between birth and 5, and expanding it to include the thousands of lower- and moderate-income families who are currently excluded.
  • Credit for Working Families with Kids: We support HB 149, Rep. Marsha Judkins’ (R-Provo) bill to expand Utah’s Earned Income Tax Credit so that more lower- and middle-income families with children can benefit. 

Justice for Youth!

We want to ensure that all youth, including those who come into contact with the juvenile justice system, have access to interventions and supports that work for them and for their families. We are dedicated to advancing policies and recommendations that contribute to a more fair and equitable juvenile justice system for all Utah youth.

This legislative session, justice for youth looks like:

  • Prioritizing School Safety: We are monitoring bills from Rep. Wilcox (R-Ogden) and the School Safety Task Force, including: HB 14, “School Threat Penalty Amendments” and HB 84, “School Safety Amendments.” We remain hopeful that these efforts will support a secure learning environment for all students, without contributing further to the School-to-Prison Pipeline. 

Be an Advocate!

As we chart the path forward, one thing remains abundantly clear: the well-being, growth, and future of Utah's children rely on the decisions we make today. Each legislative session presents an opportunity—a chance to reaffirm our commitment, reevaluate our priorities, and reimagine a brighter, more inclusive future for all. 

Together we can continue to make Utah a place where every child's potential is realized, their dreams are nurtured, and their voices are heard.

Below are some ways you can get involved this session. 

Stay Informed with our Bill Tracker

Stay informed about important legislation we are watching and reach out to your local representatives to let them know how you feel about legislation that is important to you. We make it easy for you to subscribe and watch bills that you are most concerned about. 

VIEW TRACKER

 

Join us for Legislative Session Days on the Hill

Join us at the Capitol, where we offer attendees the opportunity to engage in the legislative process on a specific issue area (health and/or child care). You'll have the chance to attend bill hearings, lobby your legislators, connect with fellow community advocates, and watch House and Senate floor debates. Click the button below for the dates/times of our meetings and to RSVP.

RSVP TODAY

 

Celebrate Utah's Immigrant Community 

In collaboration with our partners at UT With All Immigrants, the Center for Economic Opportunity and Belonging, and I Stand with Immigrants, we are organizing Immigrant Day on the Hill. Join us to discover ways to engage in Utah's civic life. Enjoy food, explore resource tables, participate in interactive activities, and entertainment. Everyone is invited to attend this free event!

Event Details: February 13, 2024, 3:30pm-5:30pm at the Capitol Rotunda, 350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

RSVP TODAY

Published in News & Blog

Salt Lake City - Voices for Utah Children released publicly today (January 6, 2021)  "#InvestInUtahKids: An Agenda for Utah's New Governor and Legislature," the first major publication of our new #InvestInUtahKids initiative. 

Utah begins a new era in this first week of January, with the swearing in of a new Governor and Lt. Governor and a new Legislature. The arrival of 2021 marks the first time in over a decade that the state has seen this kind of leadership transition. Last month Voices for Utah Children began sharing with the Governor-elect and his transition teams the new publication, and on Wednesday morning Voices will share it with the public as well.

The new publication raises concerns about the growing gaps among Utah's different racial, ethnic, and economic groups and lays out the most urgent and effective policies to close those gaps and help all Utah children achieve their full potential in the years to come in five policy areas: 

  • Early education 
  • K-12 education 
  • Healthcare
  • Juvenile justice
  • Immigrant family justice

The report, which was initially created in December and distributed to the incoming Governor and his transition teams, closes with a discussion of how to pay for the proposed #InvestInUtahKids policy agenda. The pdf of the report can be downloaded here

Published in News & Blog
July 30, 2020

Children’s Health

A Healthy Foundation for All Utah Kids to Thrive

Children and families need access to affordable, quality, health care. Health insurance provides a critical foundation for kids, so they can stay healthy, manage health conditions or problems, perform better in school, be active and thrive. ALL Utah kids should have access to health insurance. 

Unfortunately, too many Utah children do not have access to health coverage. Utah has:

  • One of the highest rates of uninsured children in the nation, 61,000 children (6%).
  • One of the highest rate of uninsured Hispanic/Latino children in the nation.
  • One of the highest rate of children currently eligible for health insurance, but not enrolled. 

How do we do we reach 100% Coverage and care for Utah kids?

To address these problems, Voices for Utah Children works to strengthen health care access for families. Utah parents are working hard every day to make sure their kids are healthy, we need to make sure our healthcare policies are working for them. We focuses on four pillars of policies to ensure that we reach 100% kids covered in Utah. Additionally, we advocate to protect the integrity of the foundational coverage that CHIP and Medicaid provides by showing the positive impact the programs have on children. Together we can help all kids be healthy and reach their full potential.

Join our 100% Kids Coverage Coalition to ensure all children in Utah have access to coverage and care! Click here to join our campaign today.

  1. Cover All Kids
  2. All Year Round Coverage
  3. Connect Kids To Coverage
  4. Protect Parent Coverage

Great News!

Cover All Kids 2024 Update:

No child should be denied care, but thousands of children are unable to get health coverage or forced to delay or forgo treatment because they lack coverage. We want to make sure all children can have the coverage and care they need this year. This year, thanks to the passage of SB217: Children's Health Coverage Amendments more immigrant children will qualify for coverage. We are ecstatic to monitor and support the implementation of Utah's new State CHIP Program!

All Year Round Coverage 2024 Update:

Currently, only children on CHIP had access to year round coverage. Lack of year round coverage has meant thousands of Utah children possibly losing their health insurance at some point in the year due to red-tape, administrative error, or changing family circumstances. Thanks to changes from the federal government, all children on Medicaid will have access to year round coverage (12-month continuous eligibility) starting January 2024! 

Published in 2020 Issues
Tagged under

Let’s Keep All Families Covered: New Report Finds Number of Uninsured Latino Children in Utah on the Rise

2020 Utah Legislature Made Strides to Help All Children Stay Covered

Decades of progress improving health coverage rates for Latino children has begun to erode nationwide, and Utah is seeing significant increases in both the number and rate of children going without insurance, according to a new report by UnidosUS and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. These findings raise concerns that many children may not be able to access the health care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utah’s rate of uninsured Latino children rose faster than the national average, a statistically significant increase from 11.1 to 17.3 percent between 2016 and 2018. The number of children increased by about 60 percent, from about 18,900 to more than 30,200. What’s more, Latino children are almost 3½ times as likely to be uninsured as non-Latino children in Utah in 2018, a gap that is greater than the national average.

The report authors point to Trump Administration policies and rhetoric targeting immigrant families, as well as efforts to undermine health care programs, which have made it more difficult for families to sign their eligible children up for public health coverage. These national factors may influence children in Utah and the trend in the wrong direction.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, the Utah Legislature took a significant measure to reverse this trend and improve coverage for all Utah children by appropriating funding to keep children covered, a policy known as Medicaid 12-month continuous eligibility. Continuous eligibility ensures children can maintain stable, year-round health coverage, even if parents experience temporary changes in income or employment status, especially important given the abrupt changes many low-income families are experiencing now.

State Senator Luz Escamilla, champion for 12-month continuous coverage and children’s health care, said: “Health coverage is critical for all children because it improves their health and educational outcomes during childhood and sets them up for a healthier and more prosperous future with better opportunities to reach their full potential.” Said Senator Escamilla, “The actions this session show that working together we can make progress to help Utah kids.”

A policy of continuous coverage is a key priority of the 100% Kids Coverage Campaign, led by Voices for Utah Children, to ensure that all children in the state have health coverage. The campaign also calls for more Medicaid and CHIP outreach and coverage for children regardless of their family immigration status. Report lead author, Kelly Whitener notes, “The majority of uninsured children are eligible for affordable health coverage through Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled.”

Voices for Utah Children policy analyst, Ciriac Alvarez Valle said, “Going forward, we will work to help more children and families get covered and overcome barriers to enrollment and care.” Alvarez Valle added, “No family should be afraid to get the care they need. We call on our state leaders to help Utah families feel safe getting health care now.”

For help enrolling in health insurance, visit: www.takecareutah.org  or call 2-1-1

For the full report: https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2020/03/10/decade-of-success-for-latino-childrens-health-now-in-jeopardy/

###

Published in News & Blog
Tagged under

It’s been a busy end-of-year for Utah kids’ health coverage, from ACA open enrollment to full Medicaid expansion (almost!). Here’s what’s been going on and what lies ahead in 2020...

Where are Utah kids going??


At the last Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee meeting, we learned that 398 children dis-enrolled from Medicaid and CHIP in October. While this is better than the 2,637 who lost coverage the previous month (no, that’s not a typo), the question remains: Where are these kids going?? Are they moving over to the private insurance market? Or are they uninsured? Unfortunately, we still don’t know.

American Community Survey data suggest lower income children are the most likely to be uninsured in Utah. However, we do not have good real-time data to track why Utah kids are dis-enrolling from Medicaid or CHIP at such an unprecedented rate.

Reasons for this coverage loss may include red tape and confusion about children’s health insurance options, and federal anti-immigrant hostilities creating a climate of fear for many families. But again, our best data has a one-year lag time. It is critical we make sure kids are getting connected with health insurance now. We know from research that when kids go uninsured it has a negative impact on their life trajectory.

We commend our state agencies for their attention to this issue; we urge them to survey families who recently lost coverage so that we can make sure kids are getting covered and staying covered.

Full Medicaid expansion*… coming soon to Utah?

In November, the Utah Department of Health submitted its “fallback” waiver request to fully expand Medicaid! On December 7th, the federal comment period closed. THANK YOU to the over 4,800 people who submitted federal and state comments.

We now await federal approval for Utah to enact full Medicaid expansion. It’s been a long, complicated road, but we just might get there. Find out if you’re eligible for Medicaid.

*Unfortunately, this is not exactly the expansion Utahns voted for. Our state is tacking on harmful work requirements, premiums, surcharges and red tape to Medicaid coverage for the newly eligible. These added requirements will make it harder for Utah parents and children to get care. If approved, we will work hard to prevent these provisions from causing families to lose the coverage and care they need.

Have a story to share about how Medicaid coverage will make a difference in your life? Share your story here.

Open Enrollment: Last Day to Apply is December 15th!

In need of health insurance for you or your family? Call 2-1-1 or visit TakeCareUtah.org to learn more about the health insurance marketplace.

What’s coming up in 2020?

We are excited to see many opportunities- big and small- to help Utah kids and parents get connected with health insurance in 2020:

  • Expanded texting support to help kids and families connect with coverage, thanks to an exciting new campaign through United Way of Salt Lake.
  • Medicaid outreach from the Utah Department of Health! The Department is hiring outreach workers to help eligible individuals learn about Medicaid expansion. This is an exciting step to help more parents enroll.
  • Finally, the Utah Department of Health will -hopefully- be releasing guidelines for Medicaid ACOs, which will allow them to remind eligible members of their upcoming renewals. Many eligible individuals often lose coverage when their renewal is due. (Legislation passed in 2019 on this issue, but the guidelines have yet to be released)

… And so much more! Here’s to a 2020 where more Utah kids and families can get access to affordable health coverage and care!

Published in News & Blog
Tagged under

Going Down a Scary Path: Utah kids are losing health insurance

Over the past two years, Utah has seen an alarming increase in our child uninsured rate. After years of steady progress, it is frightening to see kids lose health insurance. 7.4% or 72,000 Utah kids now lack health insurance, when only 6% or 59,000 kids were uninsured in 2016. We are seeing some of the most significant coverage decline among young children, age 0-5, an age when it is so critical for kids to have access to have screenings, check-ups and care. Why is this happening? Over the past two years Utah and our nation have experienced an unpredictable health care environment, affecting CHIP, Medicaid expansion and the ACA, leading to misinformation and confusion; administrative complexity and lack of continuous coverage leading to disruptions in kids coverage; anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric leading families to feel unwelcome and unsafe enrolling in programs. These are scary barriers keeping Utah kids from getting the care and coverage they need and Voices for Utah Children will be working hard to keep Utah from continuing down this path any further.

Tricks and Treats

After a roller coaster summer, the Utah Department of Health is submitting a waiver proposal to expand Medicaid, fully, up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Currently, Utah has only partially expanded Medicaid. Partial expansion has meant that more individuals are eliglble for Medicaid, but also that thousands of individuals and parents are still shut out of coverage, while Utah pays more money to cover fewer people. We are excited for Utah to take this step closer to full Medicaid expansion, as voters supported.

But unfortunately, this latest waiver proposal also includes harmful, additional barriers such as work reporting requirements and additional cost requirements for enrollees. These added requirements will make it harder for Utah parents and children to get coverage and care. Comments are needed to prevent these harmful requirements from moving forward.

We need your help to get Utah back on the right track to full expansion (the ‘treat’ without the tricks!). Submit your comments today to stand up for full Medicaid expansion, without additional barriers or restrictions.

Finally, the Public Charge rule was recently blocked in the courts. The Public Charge is postponed until further notice. But we still have work ahead of us and we must undo the damage already done as a result of anticipation of this harmful rule, and other anti-immigrant hostilities.

Learn more about the latest developments in the Public Charge rule here.

Published in News & Blog
Tagged under
Page 1 of 3